Psalm 108:12–13 (ESV) … “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.”
“Will not Thou, O God?” the psalmist pleads in this psalm. Notice how he closes the psalm. He rests in the quenchless mercy of God who takes care of us in spite of our failures and faults.
A. A Realistic Assessment (108:12)
“Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.” It is part of the genius of this psalm that not only do we not know who wrote or compiled it, but we do not know with certainty when it was compiled. Nor do we know what special trouble in the psalmist’s life prompted him to put it together. Those troubles may have been national, domestic, or personal. They are anonymous troubles.
So we can bring our troubles along and fit them right into this psalm. No matter what they are, we can fit them in if we will. The stanza lies open ready to receive them: “Give us help from trouble.”
“Vain is the help of man.” Have we come to that point in life yet? Have we come up against something we cannot handle, and nobody else can handle either? Jacob’s predicament at Succoth and Shechem was like that. He was in trouble way over his head. Friends can sympathize and pray, they can lend support and understanding, they can offer counsel and love, but, when all is said and done, the problem remains.
B. A Real Assurance (108:13)
“Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies.” We. He. Both of us, working together. Not just me, not just He, but both of us. God is going to join you in a holy partnership and bring you through to complete victory. Hopeless extremity is His opportunity.
“There,” says the compiler, “send that to the chief musician.” That is certainly something to sing about.
These lines, also by William Cowper, reflecting his assurance in God’s faithfulness, sum up this psalm:
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.